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Delaware Faith Leaders: Join a Group of Faith Leaders Dedicated to Supporting Criminal Justice Reform in Delaware

A group of united Delaware Faith Leaders has joined the Delaware Coalition for Smart Justice to bring the values of multiple denominations to the fight for meaningful criminal justice reform. Religious leaders have a unique capability to shape community values and build support for reform, and that’s exactly what this sub-coalition of faith leaders intends to do.

Join the Faith Leader's Coalition for Smart Justice

What is the Delaware Coalition for Smart Justice?

  • Statewide group of organizations and individuals who take action together to advocate for a criminal justice system that fosters public safety by reducing mass incarceration, recidivism, and racial disparities and by focusing on respect for every person.
  • More than 30 organizations from all 3 counties, including ACLU of Delaware, Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow, Delaware Center for Justice, League of Women Voters, NAACP Delaware, Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice, Wilmington Hope Commission, Westminster Presbyterian Church Peace and Justice Work Group, Unitarian Universalist Delaware Advocacy Network, and many more.
  • The Coalition meets monthly (with call-in option), plans and executes legislative and grassroots advocacy, votes before endorsing any actions/bills.
  • Next meeting: Please click here to see when our next coalition meeting will be held.
  • By focusing on respect for every person, and working together, we can change lives.
  • To learn more about the Delaware Coalition for Smart Justice and for a full list of members, click here.

Why do we need Faith Leaders like you?

  • Each day that our system incarcerates too many people, for too long, with few educational or training opportunities, in hopeless conditions, is a moral failing of our society. Faith leaders are uniquely positioned to highlight this issue and share with the public and elected officials the importance of forgiveness, the power of second chances, and the impact the criminal justice system has on families and entire communities within their congregation or collective. 
  • The Coalition needs interfaith, unique, and diverse voices to inform its advocacy efforts and reach new people.

What does it mean for you to join or support the Coalition for Smart Justice?

  • Faith Leaders can help in many ways. You can do as much or as little as you are able, sometimes just listing your name can help.
  • We may seek your help to:
    • Call/email your legislators to promote a bill
    • Sign a Faith Leaders petition to promote a bill
    • Attend a Lobby Day
    • Host an educational event open to your congregation
    • Share Coalition communications and events on your distribution lists
    • Recruit Faith Leaders or volunteers
  • If you can’t help out in a way listed above, that is no problem! You decide how/when to help out – whatever works for you.
  • You are joining as an individual, not on behalf of your entire organization (unless the organization wants to join, the more the merrier).
  • You are endorsing only the legislative priorities the Coalition has voted to support.

What is the Coalition for Smart Justice working towards in 2020?

  • The Coalition has 6 legislative priorities, some of which were already accomplished in 2019.
    • Reduce sentences for low level drug crimes;
    • Expand opportunities for release of individuals who have served a major part of their sentence and are no longer a significant public safety threat;
    • Stop issuing arrest warrants for non-payment of fines and fees before a person’s ability to pay can be determined (promoting SB 39 in 2020);
    • Remove most consecutive sentencing requirements from the code so that sentences can run concurrently where appropriate (HB 5 passed in 2019);
    • Expand second chances by reforming Delaware’s expungement statute (SB 37 passed in 2019);
    • Improve transparency and data collection in Delaware’s justice system.

Who has already joined?

  • Superintendent Rev. Joseph W. A. Archie, III
  • Rabbi Michael Beals
  • Rev. Charles Lane Cowen
  • Rev. Thomas C. Davis
  • Rev. Patricia Downing
  • Rev. Dr. Lyle J. Dykstra
  • Rev. Douglas Gerdts
  • Rev. Dr. Gregory Knox Jones
  • Rev. Gregory Pelly
  • Rabbi Yair Robinson
  • Rev. Dr. Richard Speck
  • Rev. Sudie Niesen Thompson

Who should I contact with questions?

  • Erica Marshall, Manager, Campaign for Smart Justice at the ACLU of Delaware and Member, Coalition for Smart Justice (
  • Jack Guerin, Member, Coalition for Smart Justice (

How can I sign up?

Thank you for your consideration of the Faith Leader's Coalition for Smart Justice!